Day 16 – Machu Picchu!

August 31, 2013

Today our day started bright, early and freezing, at 3:30 AM. We were woken up and had a quick breakfast of bread and jam before being ushered out the door, into the freezing air and onto a bus. Most of us slept through the ups, downs, turns and bumps of the hour and a half ride to the train station. Once we arrived we groggily got off the bus and, once our tickets and passports were checked, hopped on board a PeruRail train. There we found our seats, which were comfy and surrounding a table, and admired the mountains, glaciers and villages that we passed. We were served a snack of either a muffin or dried plantains as well as a drink, coffee being the favorite.

After an hour and a half, the train pulled into the station in Heua Caliente and our excitement was at an all time high, we were almost at our destination, Machu Picchu! However, before we could celebrate, we had to board yet another bus, this time with our guide Mario. Twenty minutes and a hundred pictures later, we were finally there, well almost. First, because there are no bathrooms in Machu Picchu, we had to pay a whole sol to use the ones outside the gate. Then, finally, we flashed our passports, had our tickets stamped and entered the ancient city. Star struck, we gawked at the amazing town. After a few quick pictures, Mario led us to a set of stairs. Now these stairs looked innocent enough, they weren’t too steep and there weren’t too many, little did we know this was just the beginning. Not even half way up we were sweaty, out of breath, and wondering if it was possible to get hypothermia and heat stroke in the same day. Then, we reached halfway up, a beautiful spot where you could see all of Machu Picchu. While most of us posed for our own pictures, Ashlee, being a blond haired, blue eyed, fair skinned girl had people asking to take pictures with her. After the fans had cleared, we were back on the stairs headed to the top with the promise of an even better view and the guardhouse. We weren’t disappointed.  We got there, looking down you could see all the way down to the river, and looking up you could see all of the surrounding mountains.

Now that we were at the top, there was only one thing left to do, go back down. This time though, we got to go through the city. Entering through the main gate, which is higher than the rest, we headed toward the temple zone. On our way we stopped at one of the Inca houses, which is slightly sloped toward the center and has closed windows, protection from earthquakes. Carrying on we saw the most important building in all of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Sun, which is round and has the best stonework, all perfectly rectangular. Right beside that is a long building with a straw roof, the Water Temple, which is the start of sixteen fountains that go through the city. Not far from that was the Temple of the Three Windows. Three is a very important number for the Incas, as they represent the Snake, the Puma and the Condor.  We then headed to the Temple of the Condor, which are two rocks representing the wings and a rock carved in the ground that represents the head. Finally we headed to the last stop of our tour, the Ceremonial Rock. This rock is the exact shape of the mountain behind it, as well as two of Peru’s delicacies, fish and guinea pig. After answering our questions and saying our goodbyes, Mario left us saying that Incas don’t say goodbye, they say, “See you later”.

Once we were on our own, there was something we had to do, with Stacey home by herself on her first wedding anniversary we had to let her know we hadn’t forgotten. So, with Wren guiding us, we spelled  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY with our bodies, showing off our flexibility, gymnastic skills and patience. Not to mentions all the strangers laughing, pointing and taking pictures. After we had finally figured the “A” and taken the picture, we had an hour of free time to explore. Some of us took the opportunity to sit and have our empanada lunch and take pictures, while others walked to a building on one of the highest points. Unfortunately our hour was over much too soon, and we were quickly back on the bus to Haue Caliente. With the time we had to wait for our train we browsed the small market picking up a few souvenirs and adding to a seemingly ending collection of sweaters and blankets. After we had enough souvenirs to prove that we had actually been to Machu Picchu, we walked to the train station and boarded. This time our seats were in groups of two and our snack was a spinach pastry and cinnamon bun. This time though, our ride came with entertainment, a masked man dancing up and down the aisles. He asked Alyssa for a dance, and got Emma to model some of the clothes for sale on the train. After our new friend was finished we quickly pulled into the station and got on our last bus of the day, back to Cuzco.     

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Day 10 – A Day off

August 25, 2013

Today we got to sleep in because it was our day off, it was also one of the coldest days we have had since being in Bolivia. We were planning on leaving around nine o’clock to travel about an hour to the old town of Tarata with a couple of Rotarians and Roteractors.

When we arrived in Tarata we were to witness part of a Catholic Mass service, which was pretty interesting considering the whole service was in Spanish.  Then we toured a convent that was built in 1796. We first saw where the Priests and Missionaries lived, made wine, and had meetings with the public. We also saw many different old and modern paintings about religion. There were also beautiful hand woven robes that some of the priests that lived there actually wore. By the time the tour of the church was over most people were starting to get hungry, so we stopped in town for a snack.  We all enjoyed some sausages and bread. Where we stopped to eat there was a bridge that had no water underneath it. The bridge was built when there was a river that ran in the middle of the town; it was built because a President didn’t want his horse to get wet when crossing the river.

After we had our snack we travelled to the town square which we learned was typical of a square you could find in Spain. We learned that for more than two hundred years the Spanish ruled Bolivia. In the square there was a statue of General Estebn Arze who was one of the heroes for Bolivia’s independence from the Spanish.  We learned that Tarata used to be where the Parliament was, but since the road to Santa Cruz was built the Parliament was moved. Also in the square there were statues of four Presidents of Bolivia whose home town was Tarata. The square also held a church that was very beautiful and had the remains of General Esteben Arze.  We left the square and the town of Tarata to have lunch at a resort that had paddle boats and a zip line. For lunch there was a selection between 5 different kinds of fish and chicken. Everything on the menu looked delicious even the exotic fish some people had.

After lunch we were allowed to walk around and use the zip line and other activities around the resort. Some of us bought chocolate covered strawberries for our dessert, they were really good. When we were done at the resort we drove back to Cochabamaba and got ice cream at Dumbos.  Back at the hall it was a free night which meant for some people washing some clothes, catching up with their journal, or just hanging out and doing nothing.  We had a short presentation by Phoebe who is the lady who has arranged for us to go into one of the Prisons, later on this week.

Tomorrow we are back at the work.  Can’t believe we only have four more days in Cochabamba!

-Sera

Pot of meat cooking at the restaurant

Pot of meat cooking at the restaurant


Group picture on the bridge with no water

Group picture on the bridge with no water


Guess what this is?  You are right!  The washroom!

Guess what this is? You are right! The washroom!


Some of our group outside the restaurant we had our snack

Some of our group outside the restaurant we had our snack


Mass in progress

Mass in progress


Group picture taken in the garden at the covent

Group picture taken in the garden at the covent


Cantuta flower-the national flower of Bolivia

Cantuta flower-the national flower of Bolivia


Our snack being served

Our snack being served


Street in Tarata

Street in Tarata


Andrew on the zipline

Andrew on the zipline


Derek enjoying the zipline

Derek enjoying the zipline

 

Day 8 – A surprise outing!

August 22, 2013

Today was just one of our regular working days, to start.  Everyone who had been feeling sick said they were feeling better and we started the morning with our whole group working!  We were spreading dirt and hauling gravel, and a few boys were helping the three Bolivian workers make the concrete slabs for the “concha”.  At around 9, we were surprised with the fact that we would only be working until lunch today!  Half the group went back to the Scout’s hall to shower and eat, and the other half of the group went back a half hour later, and by around 1-1:30 we were ready to go.

 Our afternoon consisted of us getting to the top of the hill that holds “El Cristo”, or what our group calls “Big Jesus”, due to the fact that it is the biggest Jesus statue in the world!  About 10 of us decided to climb the steps up to the top, and the rest took a gondola up.  The ones who walked were all really happy they did since you could see your progress and the view was amazing, but the ones who took the gondola enjoyed the ride as well.  The view from the top was beautiful and Jesus really was BIG!  Unfortunately we could not go into the statue due to it being locked, but it was still really worthwhile to go up.  After we had all taken as many pictures as possible, everyone went back down either walking or taking the gondola. 

We then took cabs to a pretty little square and from the square we decided to walk and see the types of shops along the way. We even stopped for some ice cream. When we were done our treat we headed back to the Scout’s hall at 6:00.  After dinner, a group of athletes from the Special Olympics Cochabamba team came to play a variety of games with us.  There was tennis, bocci, soccer, and basketball, and we were all terrible at every game compared to them.   We were presented with certificates, and thanked for spending our evening with them.  Once they left around 8:30, many from our group were exhausted and decided to go to bed after our very eventful day.

 – Svetlana

Some of the group with some friends

Some of the group with some friends


Lorraine and a new friend on the gondola at El Christo

Lorraine and a new friend on the gondola at El Christo


El Christo

El Christo


The group in front of El Christo

What a great looking group


Winners of the Bocci tournnament

Winners of the Bocci tournnament


Time for some gymnastics at El Christo

Time for some gymnastics at El Christo


Wren, Sophie and Emma

Wren, Sophie and Emma


The warning posted at the bottom and top of gondola ride to El Christo

The warning posted at the bottom and top of gondola ride to El Christo


Happy girls taking the gondola instead of the stairs

Happy girls taking the gondola instead of the stairs


Time for ice cream

Time for ice cream

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Day 7 – Work hard/Play hard

August 22, 2013

Today when we all woke up and got out of the comfy little bunk beds we sleep in at the scout hall we went to breakfast and exchanged some stories.  We found out the dogs that live on the compound had gone into two of the rooms and startled a few people. One went into girls room and tried to snuggle up to Tamara.  The other one decided to go into the boys room and sniff Mike’s face. We then went and did our morning duties. We are broken into three groups and are assigned either the kitchen, sweeping the rooms and halls, or the bathrooms. No one likes doing the bathrooms… even though there is only one toilet that works in the girl’s bathroom. That causes problems when we wake up and all have to pee.

Once our chores are complete walk for about two minutes over to the site. One of our duties today was to take all of the rocks that were stacked behind the bleachers. These rocks were fairly large and it took the Interactors half a day to move them all to a pile to the side of the park, which is very impressive. When we got our new pile of dirt delivered today the men who delivered the dirt, were responsible for taking the rocks that we piled, away in their dump truck. It took them only 30 min to throw them all into their truck and drive away. Wow!   The work we have done so far is almost finished filling in behind the bleachers and making them stable.  Some of us would like to ask if we can grout (fill in cracks and holes) and possibly paint them.   Then we have to level out all the area beside playground equipment and place new dirt, and cement the rest of the basketball court. We finished transplanting trees after a run in with the angry gardener.

 Once classes at the center start the parents of the kids like to come over and to help us because they are required to have some volunteer hours for the center, it’s really nice to have them help because it’s a little easier to take a break and sit in the shade if you need to. Work day three is always one of the hardest; it’s when you start to feel sore before you start getting used to the hard work. Some of the moms come and helped us transfer dirt.   It is amazing to see them take empty cement sacks, pile a bunch of rocks and dirt onto  the bag and  carry the bags to the pile.  Many of these women were not all that young!  There are also two little boys who came to help us. These little boys work harder than we do when they come, and that’s VERY hard.  At the end of the day we welcomed a shower, that we all knew was going to be a cold shower. There seems to be only one shower that actually gives luke warm water and I haven’t a clue which one it is.

 Tonight the District Governor of Bolivia came along with all the Cochabamba Interact, Rotaract, and other Rotarians. After a nice ceremony where Geoff got a Rotary banner from the Rotary club of Cochabamba and all the Interactors were given buttons that said, “Yo Rotoract Tunari”, which means “We love Rotaract Tunari”. The night was fun and we played multiple games with all of the Rotaract and Interact clubs. We played a game that helped us introduce ourselves.  When a ball of yarn was thrown to you in the circle, you took hold of the string, said your first and last name, hobbie, and nickname. It created a spider web that linked our countries, and ourselves together. . Then we had a barbeque and the meat was definitely something that most Interactors from Canada were not used to, it was cow heart. To be honest it tasted just like normal meat and lots of the boys went back for more. Then we played another game called ‘werewolf’ which was kind of  like that murder mystery game where someone is it and they shake another person’s hand and squeeze it so they “die”, except it had witches,  werewolves and hunters and was really interesting. Once the night ended it was much later than when we usually go to bed. We all said our goodbyes and went to sleep.

– Ashlee

Geoff and the District Govenor

Geoff and the District Govenor

 

A group of students at Ceirco Center

A group of students at Ceirco Center

 

Raissa and Sophie

Raissa and Sophie cut 76 holes in this pipe because perforated pipe is too expensive

 

Steven working with the cement maker

Steven working with the cement maker

 

 A mom working with her baby on her back

A mom working with her baby on her back

 

Barbeque preparation

Barbeque preparation

 

Game with yarn making a web

Game with yarn making a web

 

Wren and Natasha making new friends

Wren and Natasha making new friends

 

Day 2 – Traveling by plane round 2

August 17, 2013

We arrived bright and early in Miami after our red-eye flight from Seattle. We had 8 hours to kill in Miami airport before our next flight later that day. It seemed as though everyone dispersed very quickly to find some breakfast! After people had filled up we all chose different activities to help the layover pass more quickly. Some people decided to go do a little bit of shopping while others just wanted to explore the airport and be able to move around. However a large group of us decided that sleep would be the best thing for us, so we set up camp on the airport floor, literally. Derek used quilts, blankets and suitcases to build a little tent! But it was short lived as people needed to get into their suitcases. The layover passed relatively quickly between sleeping, exploring and trying to complete Geoff’s Scavenger Hunt through the Miami airport. The Scavenger Hunt included a list of several random things that we had to find and take pictures of. Each group did a great job and enjoyed the prize at the end…Chocolate for everyone!

We finally departed from Miami at about 2:30pm on our last flight for the day. We flew from Miami to La Paz, Bolivia where we stopped for about an hour to let passengers off, let others on, and refuel the plane. After our short pit-stop we flew to Santa Cruz.
Then came the difficult part, getting 46 suitcases, 23 carry-on’s, 23 quilts, and 23 very tired people through customs and loaded onto two tiny buses. But with some cooperation we successfully made it to our hotel by 1:30am.

– Israel Millar

(No photos from today! I guess they were too busy travelling)